Greetings from the South of France, where I'm living, learning, and WORKING on a small lavender farm.
Have I lost you yet?
This blog has never really been about me, directly (please don’t laugh…) but I thought you might be interested in this mini adventure of mine. I’m learning all about lavender, after all; and lavender is one of the most common (if not THE most common) and oldest (dated back to ancient Egypt) ingredient used in natural skin treatments—medicinal, cosmetic, aromatherapeutic…you name it! Working on the farm, I'm even required to keep a small bottle of lavender oil on my person at all times, in order to treat any bites, stings, or burns. Not only does the oil work to clean a wound, it also soothes it, and smells absolutely lovely!
While I’m not here for the lavender harvest (which doesn’t happen ‘till late summer) this is a rare opportunity for me to learn everything about the plant from a very passionate couple of “artisanal” growers. There’s no better word than artisanal to describe their products, really. No, they're not certified “organic,” “bio,” or “natural"; but they’re better than all the above. The growers put an immense amount of TLC into their lavender; into educating others about the proper growth techniques, uses, and history of lavender; and, last but not least, into each and every one of the lavender products they create and sell.
I've been consuming some absolutely incredible food, wine, and hospitality here at the farm; I’ve also learned to drive a tractor; I've collected and cracked walnuts for pressing; and I've even collected “fresh manure” from the goat farmer down the lane (which was quite fun actually!...but a story for another time); yet my largest and most important duties have involved weeding and caring for the lavender bushes.
When the lavender plants are thrown into the still (where the oils are extracted) during the harvest season, absolutely NOTHING (including, but not limited to weeds) can go in there with them. Rather than spraying their lavender with ANYTHING, these farmers remove the weeds, bugs, etc., by hand. Large-scale, wholesale growers are not so careful; and while it clearly isn’t the end of the world that some fancy lavender soaps, lotions and perfumes contain remnants of other plants and maybe even some chemical sprays, it’s interesting to see the IMMENSE amount of work that goes into growing a truly pure, loved and wholesome ingredient.
The amount of history and knowledge I've picked so far up is incredible, yet above all else, I think my time here is helping me appreciate the amount of thought, time, effort and love that goes into creating a truly pure and healthy personal care product.
Wish me luck!